UT Arlington 81
Texas State 73
The two Sun Belt basketball contests against Texas State every year rarely disappoint, and this year has been no different.
UT-Arlington (16-15, 12-6 Sun Belt) won a double-overtime game in San Marcos a couple of weeks ago. The Mavericks, playing on their home floor this afternoon, led wire-to-wire and defeated a very, good Bobcat team (23-8, 12-6 Sun Belt) in convincing fashion 81-73 for the second win against Texas State this season. The College Park Center had a great playoff-like atmosphere today, with probably 20-30% of the 2,702 fans in attendance cheering on the visiting team. A lot like when North Texas comes to town.
Playoff seeding was on the line, and the Mavericks came out played with intensity on both ends of the floor for nearly all of the full 40:00.
UTA has been winning primarily by defending the 3-point line well (today was no different, holding Texas State to just 4-22 from outside) but the offense has been also been stellar the last several games. UTA, who shot the ball extremely well from outside last week in Alabama, only attempted 8 threes in the first half of today’s game. Instead, the Mavs found early success by repeatedly getting the ball inside for layups and and-1’s. Despite the Mavs’ early lead, Texas State were able to close what had been a 6-10 point lead down for most of the first 20:00 down to 3 in the closing seconds of the first half before Edric Dennis drained a huge three to put UTA up 6 going into intermission.
In the second half UTA got hot from outside, with Brian Warren getting a lot of his game-high 24 points on three-pointers and short jumpers (8-16 fg, 4-7 3pt, 4-5 ft). Warren had 30 against Texas State in San Marcos earlier this year. The Mavs’ lead was as up to 16 with 13:44 in the second after an 8-0 scoring run. A wild final couple of minutes saw the Bobcats go on a late 10-0 run to get the UTA lead down to 5 but some big free throws resulted in UTA winning by 8. No lead is really large enough in games between these two longtime rivals, and that’s what makes this series so much fun.
Early foul trouble is rarely a good thing for a team, and today Texas State saw junior guard Nijal Pearson, one of their top scorers, pick up two quick fouls within the first couple of minutes. 3 Bobcats had 3 fouls by halftime. UTA pounded the ball into the paint relentlessly the first half, getting to foul line 20 times by halftime, and the Bobcats simply couldn’t find a way to stop UTA inside. The Maverick defense was very good again, forcing 13 turnovers and getting 7 steals. UTA did a good job of taking care of the ball, turning the ball over only 10 times. Edric Dennis scored 15 on 4-11 shooting (1-5 from outside) and making 6 of 8 free throws. Andres Ibarguen, who apparently will be graduating this year (he was honored as part of senior day) finished his final home game in Arlington with 8 points on 4-4 shooting including two huge dunks. Tiandre Jackson-Young continues his hot outside shooting, scoring 6 points by making 2 of his 4 3-point attempts.
Great recap of the game in the San Marcos Record:
So…anyone else think that coach Chris Ogden should be Sun Belt Coach of the Year?
- First year as a head coach
- Assembled a talented roster of players (including several redshirt freshmen and junior college transfers) that had little experience playing together. Some players were recruited by Ogden, some were recruited by former head coach Scott Cross.
- Picked to finish 11th in conference, finished 2nd
- Team was 4-11 after a tough pre-conference schedule (and losing the first two conference games), finished the season on a 12-4 run
One more bit of trivia: Texas State has never won at College Park Center.
The final conference standings:
Georgia State defeated Georgia Southern this afternoon, giving UTA the second seed in the tournament. The Mavs will play Saturday in New Orleans in a semi-final game at 5:30. After today’s loss, Texas State is the fourth seed.
Conference Tournament schedule:
Tuesday, March 12
Game 1: #9 Arkansas State at #8 South Alabama
Game 2: #10 Appalachian State at #7 Louisiana-Monroe
Thursday, March 14
Game 3: #5 Louisiana vs. Winner of Game 1
Game 4: #6 Coastal Carolina vs. Winner of Game 2
Friday, March 15
Game 5: #4 Texas State vs. Winner of Game 3
Game 6: #3 Georgia Southern vs. Winner of Game 4
Saturday, March 16
Game 7: #1 Georgia State vs Winner of Game 5
Game 8: #2 UTA vs. Winner of Game 6
Sunday, March 17
Championship: Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8
The league’s bracket (below) shows how many games the lower-seeded teams have to win. For example, Appalachian State would have to win 5 games over 6 days to win the tournament. The top 2 seeds (UTA and Georgia State) only have to win 2 games over 2 days (Saturday and Sunday).
Complete 2019 Sun Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Championship can be found at the league’s website: Sun Belt Men’s Basketball Championship Info